The Hands of Others

I couldn’t sleep last night and so I got up at about 3 and plugged in This American Life podcast and listened to an absorbing, excellent piece on the Foxconn factory in China.

Foxconn manufactures gadgets for companies such as Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP and it has appalling working conditions and high suicide rates among its workers. I can’t pretend that I didn’t know about the controversy surrounding Apple and its relationship with Foxconn, but I hadn’t fully understood how despicable working conditions are for the Chinese laborers. Such conditions include child labor; forcing employees to work highly repetitive, numbing assembly-line jobs without any rotation, thus crippling their hands within a few years; forcing people to work overtime and not compensating them for it; and using dangerous chemicals during production that ruin an employee’s health.

You should listen to the podcast yourself. I guarantee you will look at your iphone and any other electrical device differently after you hear it. Will there ever come a time when corporations put humanity above profit? It would take so little effort to put safe working conditions in place for laborers yet nothing is done. For God’s sake… a simple rotation on the assembly line could make the difference in crippling someone’s hands. Apparently, it is too much to demand.

The podcast is here.

7 thoughts on “The Hands of Others

  1. That is why it is so absurd to hear U.S. politicians on the right whine about regulations crippling industry. I’m sure the folks in Bhopal India would have liked some regulations, and enforcement of those regulations back in 1984.

    1. Oh God – don’t get me started. I’m convinced that this is what the political elite (and I’m including Democrats in this) want to do… they want to make cheap labor the status quo for everyone, in America and abroad. Cheap labor means unsafe working conditions, unsafe environmental conditions, unfair wages.

  2. Apple (and hey other companies too) have the money to build decent factories for their workers. And it was done in Victorian England: Port Sunlight, Bourneville – it worked out very well for everybody. Apple has a ton of money – they could do it….

  3. Apple could be a tremendous force for good if they would spearhead a movement to bring better working conditions to their offshore factories. They’re by no means the only company that does this, but they could lead the way out of it.

  4. I love podcasts and things like This American Life, Speaking of Faith, Fresh Air and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, too. I have switched from audio books to listening to podcasts when I travel or go walking…lifelong learning, right.

    And yes, outsourcing so companies can keep more of their money for execs is more than just political but the politicians don’t help…

  5. And so many American workers blame the foreign workers for taking jobs. Yet it’s not the Chinese or Indian or wheverer workers who are stealing jobs, it’s the corporations who are outsourcing to save a few bucks–and at what price? I like what you said, Andy and Anne. Apple could lead the way. But will they?

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